Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Test Run - Mohair Endurance Girth

My friend Vicki weaves beautiful mohair girths and cinches (Traditional Mohair Cinches) and has made me a gorgeous endurance girth in Rhio's new colors, turquoise and black.  Rhio and I are charged with thoroughly testing this new girth, and giving our input for future endurance girths.  Tonight was a great night to start putting this beauty through its paces!

Gesa, Paco, Kelso, Rhio, and I found ourselves pulling into an occupied parking lot at Boulder Lake tonight around 5:15 pm.  It's grouse season, and with the gorgeous weather today, everyone and their uncles were out enjoying the evening.  Two of the three hunters we met freely admitted that they were really out for the fall colors, balmy air, and beautiful trails - wearing blaze orange and carrying a shotgun was just their excuse.

Having done nothing but admire my new girth so far, I took a few pictures of it in it's pristine loveliness before tacking up.  It will never look like this again!

Taking a page out of its creator's book, and documenting my new girth's loveliness while draped over my horse. 

Oh so pretty!  Note it's clean, bright, unsullied appearance. 
Vicki made this one nice and short for me, so I can utilize different holes in my saddle billets than my other girths do.  This is a great thing to do to extend the life of your billets.  I was immediately pleased that the buckles rolled easily over the leather billets, and I had no trouble getting it latched into the first holes on each side.  I did have a moment of reservation when I saw just how short it was, but I remember Vicki telling me it would stretch at least an inch and I know the foam in my Skito pad takes a minute or two to warm up to body temperature and allow the saddle to settle down correctly.  Sure enough, I was able to get the girth comfortably snug at the third hole on each side after just a few minutes (my regular girth is correctly tightened at the fifth hole, in case you were wondering.)

Of course I had to take a few more pictures to fully document how great this girth looks - and how terrible the rest of my now-mismatched tack & accessories look in comparison!!!  I hope the weather stays nice so I can ride, otherwise I fear I may be spending too much time online shopping for turquoise and black stuff!

Beauty and function!
We set off with the goal of doing the loop (about 7 miles) in an hour, which would put us back at the trailer in the last bit of light for the day.  Rhio was a little doggy to begin; I found I was having to push him into a nice trot and he didn't feel very free or forward at all.  Just about the time I was considering being worried about it, he clicked into his normal forward, happy, moving out mode and all was well.  We walked where the footing dictated it, but otherwise had a grand time cruising along at a steady trot or nice canter, shouting bits of conversation back and forth as we went.
Pausing for a drink for the dog, and a nibble for the horses.

Not the best light for illuminating me & Rhio , but a particularly lovely piece of the trail.
Rhio shied at boulders or broken tree stumps a few times, but maintained forward motion the entire time so I had no trouble staying with him.  We had a harrowing encounter with a fallen-at-an-angle tree situated just around a tight corner, but Rhio responded beautifully to my leg and I managed to duck under the high portion as he took the corner faster and tighter than we'd planned.  That was a bit of a rush; it occurred to me as I continued flying down the trail that smacking that tree with my head at a very forward canter would have been a BAD thing, even with a helmet on.  Throughout it all,  the saddle was rock solid, no slipping of the girth noted.  We paused once for water (Kelso) and grass (ponies) and photos, but otherwise kept to our pace and achieved our goal, finishing right on the money as the sun vanished.  What a ride!  It's been too long since we've had a ride like this, just good footing and clear trails to sail around, seemingly without a care in the world.  We were "in the zone."

After completing the ride, the girth is, expectedly, a bit grungy with the sweat/dirt combination that comes off Rhio when he's working (& hasn't had a bath recently) and I can see that it developed a little crease behind the elbows on both sides where his girth groove and movement obviously want something a little less broad.  I should have measured its dimensions before use, but I didn't.  The leather buckle-backers did a great job - no evidence of rubbing at the buckles.  Rhio did look like he developed a tiny rub on the left side about an inch in front of where the girth sat at rest.  I will be interested to check that out in daylight tomorrow to confirm.  If I remember correctly, this has happened with other girths as well, probably until they get broken in and molded to his particular conformation.
Looking at the girth in situ, left side, after 7 miles of mostly trotting and cantering.  

The girth on the hood of the truck.  Note the darker line about 1/3 of the way from the top on both sides - this is the spot that is bunching or wrinkling behind the elbows.  The top of the picture is the side toward his elbows. 

So far I am pleased with the new girth, and plan to continue its testing this weekend at a 25 mile limited distance ride in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - Pine Marten Run, here we come!

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